2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
This should certainly be inscribed over the door of every institution that trains preachers. It probably is for some, but quite a few “full time Christian workers” seem to have forgotten it. It contains several elements, none of which should be overlooked. In the first place, this is all about giving yourself to God. Far too many people are “in ministry” for other reasons. (I put “in ministry” in quotes, because with the wrong motives it ceases to be true ministry.) True ministry is a grateful response to the One who has done so much for us, and is about Him and the people He created and loves. Those who are going through the motions for other reasons would be far better off doing something else. Then there is the matter of being a laborer who doesn’t need to be ashamed. Ministry can be hard work, so if you are afraid of hard work, it’s not the field for you! So what would make a laborer ashamed? If they sloughed off, failing to do their best. We seem to have lost that kind of pride in workmanship in much of society, with people doing only as much as they have to do to get by, and the saddest thing is, they seem to have no shame at doing so. And then there’s the content of the work: correctly handling the Word of truth. The traditional translation of that is “rightly dividing,” and the Japanese expresses it as “explaining/interpreting it straight.” Too many preachers blindly follow some commentary or “big name” teacher, or even worse, twist the Word to make it say whatever they want it to. Doing it right requires familiarity with the whole Bible, Genesis to Revelation, and intimacy with the Holy Spirit who caused it to be written. Anything less will be a bent or twisted interpretation at best. The Japanese word order closes the verse with “work at it, giving it your best,” which the English puts at the beginning. Either way, it is to be the constant attitude of anyone who would serve God.
Well, I’ve certainly dealt myself a dose of conviction! I do seek to live this way, but my own strength and wisdom aren’t up to the task. That’s why I’m forced into constant dependence on Christ, on His Spirit. It is when I think I’ve got it licked that I fall most flat! I don’t want to give a twisted presentation of God’s truth, either by my words or by the way I live. I want every facet of my life to be a testimony of His holiness, righteousness, faithfulness and love. That won’t happen apart from my staying focused on Christ and giving myself fully to Him. He allows me to go through all sorts of things to train me to stay focused. Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I get completely distracted. I am not to give up, but confess and repent of my failures and delight in His grace, so that I may be the sort of workman He desires, for His glory.
Father, thank You for Your training. Sometimes my flesh rebels, but You are still faithful. Help me live today and each day without complaining, but rather doing each task that You set out for me with gratitude that You have counted me worthy of serving You, so that Your purposes may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!